Golden Oldie of the Week

14/01/2021

Classic tracks that still pack the perfect punch and the stories behind them! This week, Chan Romero - 'Hippy Hippy Shake'

https://www.discogs.com/Chan-Romero-The-Hippy-Hippy-Shake-My-Little-Ruby/release/7515176#images/20075237
https://www.discogs.com/Chan-Romero-The-Hippy-Hippy-Shake-My-Little-Ruby/release/7515176#images/20075237

Whilst we are blessed with fresh new tunes at our fingertips on a daily basis, there's a multitude of bangers still waiting for the latest generation to rediscover them.


This week, one-hit wonder Chan Romero takes centre stage.


Chan Romero was born in Billings, Montana, to a father of Spanish and Apache heritage and a mother of Mexican and Irish. The pair had migrated north during in the Great Depression of the 1930s and Chan, birth name Robert Lee, was born in 1941.


As a young teenager Romero was inspired by early rock and roll artists, with Elvis Presley's 1956 appearance on The Steve Allen Show described as a major turning point in his life.


Romero also found inspiration through the source of teen sensation Ritchie Valens, who is often labelled as the forefather of the Chicano Rock movement; rock music performed by American Latinos.


Desperate to make a name for himself, Romero hitchhiked to Los Angeles and penned 'Hippy Hippy Shake' in 1958, an up-tempo rock and roll song modelled on his idol, Valens.


Whilst the song featured all the elements of Romero's raw enthusiasm, he was seventeen at the time of writing, it failed to make a major impact on the U.S or European airwaves.


However, somewhat surprisingly, the song was a big success in Australia, landing at number three in the charts.


Whilst this could have easily been the end of 'Hippy Hippy Shake', the song was given a new life in the early 1960s.


Picked up by Paul McCartney and The Beatles, it became a regular tune performed in their gigs in Liverpool. Hearing The Beatles cover, The Swinging Blue Jeans, another Merseybeat outfit, began performing the song and released their own version in 1963.


The song peaked at number two in the UK charts the same year, and number twenty-four in the US in 1964. Their cover of 'Hippy Hippy Shake' meant The Swinging Blue Jeans became one of the first artists involved in the British Invasion of the 1960s.


A live version by The Beatles was released in 1994 on their compilation album Live at the BBC, featuring one of their performances of the song from back in 1962.


Romero failed to follow up 'Hippy Hippy Shake' with any other meaningful songs and moved into releasing Christian Inspired music.


He has continued to perform throughout his life, occasionally performing on 'Oldies' tours and even visiting the famed Cavern Club, a place where his music inspired others and became a significant source of joy forever more.


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